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Don’t be Mother Teresa. Or Putin

by | Jun 23, 2019 | CEO Role, Management Issues

Being an effective boss doesn’t require being bossy. Quite the contrary. You’re in it together with your employees—working towards a common goal.

But someone has to be the leader, supplying direction, focus and a sense of urgency. And you’ve been elected. (Okay, maybe “elected” isn’t exactly the right word.)

Being friendly, and demanding too

The most effective CEOs I’ve worked with are clear, firm and direct. They’re demanding, but people like working for them, because everyone understands the deal. Their managers aren’t caught by surprise with shifting expectations or unfair evaluations of their performance. Everyone feels they’re part of the same team, pulling in the same direction. Those CEOs aren’t bossy, and they’re not wimps. They’re not dictators, and they’re not missionaries. However demanding they might be, they generally manage to be friendly and easy to work with.

You can be nice, and demanding too.

Being friendly works better.

But you’ve also got to set standards and get results.

I’m not suggesting that they engage in bows and curtsies, but they do treat their people with respect and kindness. This isn’t weakness. They find ways to be firm — even demanding — without being rude.

As you gain experience, you’ll see more clearly that there’s a difference between being demanding and being nasty.

If you want to get the results you need, you can start by treating your managers the same way you’d like to be treated. Kindness doesn’t cost anything extra. Some CEOs may see it as a sign of weakness, but it’s not.

It’s rare for employees to treat each other (or customers) well if their boss treats them badly. That’s why being friendly is better. It’s also more efficient and more effective, and it makes everyone feel better too.

Be the CEO: both friendly and firm

Don’t be friendly for its own sake (though you can if you want to). Do it because it works better. You’ll get better results regardless of why you do it

At the same time, remember: Someone has to set the standards, set the rules and ensure that you’re getting the right results. That would be you.

Don’t be Mother Teresa, and don’t be Putin. Be the CEO.


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